Yet Another Holiday of Guilt

Another guilt-based holiday you may not even know about

The autumn dark is lengthening, which harkens the English-speaking, Judeo-Christian Holiday Season is about to split open wider than a crocodile mouth at the bottom of a baby duckling water slide.

It begins with Columbus Day. No mail and the banks are closed. Much is to be said for starting slow. Then the downward hurtle is set off by Halloween, when people toss about candy, free, incognito.

Fast forward to the favorite holiday of liberals all over California. The eagerly awaited, down-home, secular celebration, known for bringing families together every November. The one day a year dedicated to giving — not receiving. Of course, we’re talking about America Recycles Day on November 15.

Don’t know about you, but in the Durst household, there’s something magically comforting about the grand holiday traditions that have grown up over generations. Brown, blue and green stockings hanging from every fireplace mantle. The wacky winnowing ceremony that marks the traditional draining of the liquor cabinet into one big punch bowl. The pulsating glow from dozens of festive landfill tire-fires dotting the landscape.

Mandatory middle school pageants dedicated to raising high the 3 R mantra of the season: “Reduce, Reuse & Recycle.” How that phrase echoes across the land! Sure, some kids today consider it dopey and old fashioned, but our little Eloise & Madaleine still squeal with delight while cleaning out the compost bin on America Recycles Day Eve.

So that it appears brand spanking new in the morning when beloved Happy the Vulture drops off sustainable presents to reward all the good little boys and girls who separated their straws from their juice boxes depositing them in the proper receptacles the previous year.

Gathering round the dining table that was once a telephone wire spool; after a socially responsible breakfast of locally sourced egg substitutes, pork belly flavored tofu and an array of organic greens — the whole family troupes down to the annual Recycling Parade, where participants dressed in green biodegradable bubble wrap ride on solar powered garbage trucks and toss edible barks and mosses to the teeming crowds.

Then the big holiday evening family get-together at Grandmama’s house, where one of the uncles dresses as Happy or one of his dung beetle buddies passing out environmentally-friendly gifts. Many which are re-gifted to a clot of kids wearing wrinkled red crepe hanging from their necks going door to door singing ecological carols. Such as the merrily enchanting, “Can It. Save the Planet!”

Conservatives continue to malign this movement, as evidenced by their annual “War on Recycling Day,” banning blue bins from government building cafeterias. But here in California, our one true unifying religion is recycling. Even if the complete blessing of the goddess Gaia will never be realized, our recycling frenzy blazes a path to the future: fostering a gentler and cleaner society, perhaps allowing us to inhabit the planet a few weeks longer.

And for all those who mock our liberal spirituality, accusing us of having as many gods as haircuts; just bear witness to our devotional manifestation once every week when we stagger to the curb with our holy sacrificial offerings, reverently reflecting for hours on what goes where. And in another eerie parallel, just like with normal religions, it’s all pretty much based on guilt.

Will Durst is an award-winning, nationally acclaimed political comic. Go to for more about the documentary film “3 Still Standing,” and a calendar guide to personal appearances such as his hit one-man show “BoomeRaging: From LSD to OMG,” appearing at the Ice House in Pasadena on Nov. 19th & returning to the Marsh San Francisco Nov. 21-23 & 28-30.

Will Durst
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